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Preview/Lines #80: Vlasic, Pavelski, DeBoer on What SAP Center Used To Be, What It Can Be Again



Credit: Dean Tait/Hockey Shots

It’s Fan Appreciation Night at SAP Center. But how many fans will show?

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Joe Pavelski, and Pete DeBoer appreciate what the fans used to be at the Tank – and what they could be again.

From 2009 to 2014, the San Jose Sharks had a 205-game sellout streak. From 1998 to 2019, under GMs Dean Lombardi and Doug Wilson, the Sharks missed the post-season just twice, usually playing to capacity crowds.

Vlasic, 37, who debuted for the Sharks in 2006, is seeing what it’s like now, usually. The last-place, rebuilding Sharks are playing at 77.2 percent capacity at SAP Center, lowest in the NHL this year.

“In 2007, when we made the playoffs, it was my first playoff game here. Coming out of the Shark Head, it was sold out. I couldn’t hear myself think. Gave me goosebumps, they were loud,” Vlasic recalled. “It was kind of intimidating, holy crap. But I was feeding off that because they were on my side.”

That’s crazy to think now, that SAP Center used to be so loud, it even spooked the Sharks.

“Even prior to taking the Sharks job, I remember coming in here as a visitor,” Dallas Stars head coach Pete DeBoer, who coached the Sharks from 2015 to 2020, told San Jose Hockey Now. “The word around the league was you had to get through the first period. The building was rocking, the crowd was into it, that team could overwhelm you. The energy in that building was always, for me, as good as there was in the league.”

Nowadays? The Sharks might announce 10,000-plus at a game, capacity 17,435, but it’s more likely about 6,000 actual people, if that.

That’s rock-bottom. There have been sellouts, but those have usually been on giveaway nights.

“Is that what it takes? So we should give something away 41 games a year,” Vlasic said, joking not joking.

“Just to see the stadium, not quite filled up like it used to be, it’s definitely a lot different playing out there,” fan favorite Pavelski, who played for the Sharks from 2006 to 2019, told SJHN in March.

Pavelski Might Attend Thornton’s Jersey Retirement, Talks Low SAP Center Crowds

“It’s a different vibe. It was much better before,” Vlasic admitted. “Kind of sucks. I remember coming here, the regular season was loud. The post-season was so loud that teams, other players said this was the most intimidating place to play.”

The veteran defenseman, 1,293 regular season games and counting in teal, isn’t blaming the fans for not showing, of course.

“Fans here, they know their hockey,” he said. “Better product, more fans.”

“It’s hard to see,” DeBoer said. “Hopefully, they can rectify that. Like every market, winning fixes that. Winning really fixes it.”

“You know what it was once,” Pavelski said. “It was special with the fans. Everyone coming into the Shark Tank knew it was gonna be a tough night, it was gonna be a great atmosphere, and that’s what you came to expect.”

San Jose Sharks (19-51-9)

Mackenzie Blackwood starts.

Kevin Labanc will draw in. Filip Zadina has a day-to-day injury but may travel on the upcoming road trip.

Minnesota Wild (37-33-9)

The Wild played yesterday, so looks like they won’t announce their line-up until shortly before the game.

Where to Watch

Puck drop between the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild is 7:30 PM at SAP Center. Watch it live on NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.


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